Category Archives: Dinner

Sauteed Spinach with Dill and Onion

Sauteed Spinach with Dill and Onions

I went to Verrill Farm the other day and had a tough time containing myself at the sight of all the locally grown veggies.  Spinach! Peas! Asparagus!  It is funny to think how far I have come.  Looking back, I can’t ever remember feeling anything more than “meh” about a vegetable.  Other than tomatoes, I never really cared much for vegetables.  I could never understand why anyone would choose a vegetable dish when there were meat dishes available.  Marc never seemed to care all that much about eating veggies either.

The players

Fast forward to Summer, 2008 and our first CSA.  As we got a new delivery each week, I started to get it.  When I had my first eggplant that summer, it was a revelation.  I alway thought I disliked eggplants.  It turns out, I disliked the old, bitter ones that are typically sold in the grocery store.  Eating small, ripe eggplants that were just picked made me think about vegetables in a whole new way.  These days, we work hard to eat as seasonally as possible.  That means going without certain veggies (corn, tomatoes, chard, *sniffle*) for much of the year.  However, it also means that when those veggies come back into season, it is like a new world of eating is opened up.

Imagine the heavenly smell of garlic and onions

This spinach dish is one of those revelations.  It is simple to prepare and not much to look at.  But boy, do the flavors hit you in a completely unexpected way.  The idea of putting spinach and dill together was a little strange to me, but don’t let it stop you because it is a dynamite combination.  Fresh dill is a must for this recipe… the dried stuff won’t work.

Almost ready!

Sautéed Spinach with Dill and Onion

Recipe from World Vegetarian by Madhur Jaffery

Ingredients:

10 oz fresh spinach, washed, stems removed

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

1 large onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped

1 tablespoon fresh dill, finely chopped

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon salt

For the yogurt sauce:

1/3 cup plain yogurt

1 garlic clove, mashed to pulp

a dash of paprika

a dash of salt

To Make:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat.  Add the spinach to the pot and bring to a boil again.  Allow to boil vigorously for two to three minutes.  Drain the spinach into a colander.  This part can be done ahead of time and the spinach allowed to cool.  If cooking right away, run water over the spinach to cool it down.  When you are ready to cook, squeeze out all the moisture by pressing small amounts of spinach in your hands.  Make sure you get as much water out as you can.  Finely chop the drained spinach.

Put the oil and butter in a medium frying pan and set over medium heat.  When the oil and butter are hot, add the onion and garlic.  Cook, stirring, until the onion is soft and translucent, about six minutes.  Lower the heat if the onion starts to brown.  Add the spinach, dill, water, and salt and stir until combined.  Simmer gently, uncovered for 10 to 12 minutes.

To make the yogurt sauce, combine the yogurt, garlic, salt, and paprika in a small bowl.

To Serve:

Serve spinach hot with a dollop of yogurt sauce in top.  Sprinkle with extra paprika to garnish.  Serves 2 as a side dish.

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Filed under CSA Talk, Dinner, Gluten-Free, Recipes, Side Dish, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Chicken Stewed in Coconut Milk (Kuku Wa Nazi)

Chicken Stewed in Coconut Milk

Things have been pretty busy over here at chez Wicked (awesome) Whisk.  Consequently we have been falling back on our standard repertoire of grilled or roasted meats served alongside rice / quinoa and a vegetable.  This does not exactly make for exciting blog fare.  Lately, the monotony has been getting us down and we are working on reinvigorating our meals, starting with this dish.

Chicken, spices, and coconut milk

According to Saveur, this recipe comes from a home cook in Mombasa and includes an ingredient that I feel is widely underutilized in American cooking, coconut milk.  Coconut milk is one of those inexpensive ingredients that when used, makes you feel like you are suddenly cooking in any number of exotic locales.  It is wonderfully fragrant and has a light taste that pairs beautifully with chiles and any number of fun spices like turmeric, curry, etc.  It adds the richness of cream to a dish but without the cooking challenges associated with cream.  We always keep a can in our pantry and often use it when we make curries.  When I came across this recipe, I knew it was one that I had to try.

The flavor base

You can adjust the heat of this dish by cooking the chiles whole (very little heat), or throwing in the seeds and membranes with the rest of the chile (lots of heat).  The turmeric is a must, it gives the dish an earthy flavor and a crazy-awesome bright yellow color.  The total time to make this dish is about 45 minutes but the active time is pretty short.  Once you pop the chicken in, go ahead and play with the kids.  It only needs occasional attention until it is done.

Crazy-awesome yellow color

Chicken Stewed in Coconut Milk (Kuku Wa Nazi)

Adapted from Saveur

Ingredients:

2 tbls cooking oil

3/4 tsp group turmeric

2 cloves garlic minced

2 green or red Thai chiles, stemmed, seeded, and minced (or left whole if you want very mild spice)

1 medium ripe tomato, cored and minced

1 small red onion, minced

2 chicken leg quarters (2 leg and thigh sections), skinned

2 tbls fresh lime juice

1 14 oz can coconut milk

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Cilantro and chopped peanuts for garnish

To Make:

Heat oil in a large, deep pan (a cast iron skillet works nicely) or pot over medium-high heat.  Add turmeric, garlic, chiles, tomato, and onion and cook, stirring often, until the onion is caramelized, about 15 minutes.  Add chicken, lime juice, and coconut milk to the pan.  Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce heat to medium low.  Simmer, turning chicken occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through and tender, about 30 minutes.

To Serve:

Serve chicken and sauce over rice.  Garnish with lots of chopped cilantro and peanuts.  Serves 2-4, depending on how hungry you are.  Recipe can easily be doubled.

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Filed under Dairy-free, Dinner, Gluten-Free, Meat, Recipes

Cumin-Dusted Pork Cutlets with Citrus Pan Sauce

Cumin-Dusted Pork Cutlets with Citrus Pan Sauce

Do you know what you are making for dinner tonight?  Is your menu written out on your big wall calendar so you know what you are making for every night of the week?  Perhaps you aren’t as nutty as we are about menu planning, but that’s okay.  You can still have an amazingly delicious dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes if you make this pork recipe.

Gathering the ingredients

This recipe is great for many reasons.  1) most people have the ingredients on hand, 2) it uses pork cutlets which are super thin, thaw quickly (if you forgot to take them out of the freezer the day before), and cook quickly, 3) the pan sauce takes less than 5 minutes to make but tastes so good that you will want to pour it on everything in sight.  The sauce is tart and tangy with the citrus juices, the honey adds a hint of sweetness to round it out, and the garlic and olive oil keep the whole thing from being too syrupy-tasting.

Cooking the pork

If you find yourself with boneless pork chops instead of cutlets, you can still make this work.  Simply cut the chops in half cross-wise and pound them to 1/4 inch thick between two sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap.  This is an excellent way to let out the day’s frustrations.  Serve with rice and black beans and some greens and you have yourself a meal in no time flat.

Scrumptious pan sauce

Cumin-Dusted Pork Cutlets with Citrus Pan Sauce

Adapted from Bon Appetit

Ingredients:

2 tbls all-purpose flour

2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

3-4 pork cutlets (about 12 ounces total)

3 tbls olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup fresh orange juice

3 tbls fresh lemon juice

1 tbls honey

To Make:

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Combine flour, cumin, salt and pepper on a plate and mix well.  Coat each pork cutlet in the flour mixture, shaking off any excess.  Add the pork to the skillet and cook through, turning once, about six minutes.  Transfer the pork to serving plates and tent with foil to keep warm.

Add the last 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to the skillet.  Add the garlic and cook until just golden (about 30 seconds), stirring often.  Add the orange juice and the lemon juice.  Bring the juices to a boil, whisking often until reduced and slightly thickened, about 3 minutes.  Whisk in honey.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Pour the sauce over the pork.

To Serve:

Serve warm with whatever sides strike your fancy.  If you put rice on before starting the pork, everything can be done at the same time.  I recommend doubling the sauce recipe.  The amount outlined above makes just enough to lightly cover the pork.  The sauce is so darn good that we find ourselves licking our plates to get every last drop… well, maybe that’s just me.  In any case, consider making extra to drizzle over rice or vegetables.  Serves 2-3.

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Filed under Dairy-free, Dinner, Meat, Recipes

Scallops in Lemon-Basil Cream Sauce

Scallops in Lemon-Basil Cream Sauce

Did you make your preserved lemons yet?  If not, what are you waiting for?  If you had started your preserved lemons a month or two ago, you could make this for dinner tonight!

As the weather turns nicer and the sights and smells of spring are all around, my thoughts turn to lighter fare like seafood, fresh herbs, and pasta dishes.  Don’t let the “cream” in the title fool you, this sauce is lovely and light with the salty-sour taste of preserved lemon mixing with fresh basil.  It is fast and easy to put together, making it perfect for a weeknight dinner.  We used small Maine bay scallops in this recipe but it would be equally lovely with larger scallops.  Please just make sure to source your ingredients carefully.  Don’t go buying farmed seafood from Asia… there aren’t a lot of regulations and lord only knows what kind of stuff might end up in your scallops.

Seared Scallops

P.S., if you don’t have preserved lemon but want to make this anyway, use the zest of a regular lemon instead.  It won’t have quite the same flavor but is will still be fresh and tasty.

P.P.S., if you don’t have any basil laying around, you could substitute fresh thyme or dill for a different, but still lovely taste

Fresh ingredients

Scallops in Lemon-Basil Cream Sauce

Ingredients:

8 oz spaghetti, cooked and drained

8 oz bay scallops

4 tbls butter, divided

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup half-and-half

1 cup chicken stock

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

lemon peel from 1/2 a preserved lemon, finely diced

2 tbls cornstarch

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Grated parmesan cheese (optional)

To Make:

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  When the butter just begins to brown, add the scollops.  Cook for 1 minute, turn over and cook for another minute.  Remove from pan and set aside.

To prepare the preserved lemon, remove it from the jar and rinse well.  Scrape out the pulp and white pith and discard.  Finely chop the peel and set aside.

Wipe out the skillet that you cooked the scallops in.  Using that pan, melt remaining two tbls butter over medium-high heat.  Add garlic and sautee until just starting to brown, about 30 seconds.  Add the half-and-half, chicken stock, and preserved lemon.  Bring to a boil and cook until reduced by half, about 8 minutes.  In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and cornstarch.  Pour into the sauce and cook for about 2 minutes or until thickened.  Remove from the heat.  Add the scallops and cooked and drained spaghetti.  Add a small amount of pasta water as needed to thin the sauce.  Stir in the basil just prior to serving.  Top with grated parmesan cheese, if desired.

To Serve:

Serve immediately.  Serves 2-4, depending on how hungry you are.

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Filed under Dinner, Fish, Pasta, Recipes